Wednesday, April 30, 2014

One Little Word IV {No}


This end-of-the-month series has a funny way of sneaking up on me.

{I invite you to start here if you have no idea what I'm talking about}

On one hand, scheduling a One Little Word review on the last day of every month has forced me to take inventory of my progress toward calm, but on the other, I forget about it. As I sat before a blank screen earlier today, I mentally reviewed the last thirty days. Emotions were all over the place. One week we were rejoicing our risen savior as kids played under the bright spring skies, and a week later the same skies spit out a violent tornado that broke the heart of Arkansas. It's been a tough one, and I can't begin to fathom what it's been like for those actually affected. They stay in my heart.

As for me and my own calendar, April was packed. It may not seem that way from the outside looking in, but my schedule is tight. Between working out of town, raising three small people, and running the youth program for church, I can get busy. Most of the things I do, however, I enjoy, which leads to the problem of taking on more than I should. I love getting things done and I love helping people, but sometimes I say "yes" when I know I shouldn't. Moral of the story: I'm learning. Twice this month I checked my calendar, I weighed my reasoning, and I said "no."

{Full Disclosure: After being asked to do one task several times, we landed on a way for me to do it from home. I didn't technically stick to my hard and fast "no" but this meant minutes away from my kids, as opposed to hours. Baby steps?}

These favors were both easy and enjoyable, but it was extra, uncompensated work. This would have meant time away from my family that I simply wasn't willing to give. Declining an invitation sounds like a simple solution, but it's a big realization for me. In order to maintain a calm, clear head, I have to know how much I can handle. And I cannot feel bad about admitting my limits. Like I said in my update last month, I can't afford to run myself ragged. Sometimes I have to opt out. And that's okay.

Take care of yourself.
Take care of your family.
Do what makes you feel good.
Say "no" when it's too much.

As often as I forget about this One Little Word promise I made to myself, the lessons I'm learning are pretty worthwhile. The best thing I've figured out about that last one is the more I say "no" when I mean it, the more often I can say "yes" to those who matter most. Have a wonderful Wednesday, y'all!



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Monday, April 28, 2014

Devastation

If you live anywhere near me, I bet you've seen little red pictures of our beloved state popping up all over your Facebook feed.

Even if you don't, there's a good chance you know why Arkansas is in desperate need of prayer. A massive tornado swept through the heart of the state, tearing apart communities that are dear to my heart, and ripping into businesses, homes, and families. Our corner of the state was unaffected and the gorgeous spring day shining through my window shows no indication of the piles of debris and devastation just a few hours up the interstate.

Yet, my heart is broken. My house is fully intact, the foliage remains on my trees, and all three of my children are safe and sound in my living room. Their clothes are still tucked away in drawers in their bedrooms, their toys are still strewn about the carpet, and they still have a roof over their heads. It's sickening to know this isn't the case for many of my fellow Arkansans. I'm very relieved to report that my friends and family who live in central Arkansas are fine, but so many of their neighbors are not. People are hurting, but as naturally as tornadoes form from nothing, people are helping. Strangers are loading up their chainsaws to uncover buildings hidden by trees and filling their shopping carts for families they don't know. We are opening hearts and homes and wallets because it's simply what we do. Arkansas' reaction to this disaster is not at all unexpected, but at the same time incredible. I am blessed to be part of a state that cares so much about its neighbors, and though I don't personally know any of those directly affected, it still feels like family.

As made clear in the picture above, Arkansas most definitely needs your prayers, but if you don't live near the devastated areas and are looking for a way to help, please consider a donation to the American Red Cross. Pray for relief and peace of mind for the families affected, but give if you're able, to help these people start over from scratch.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO THE AMERICAN RED CROSS

If you do happen to be an Arkansas reader and you're looking for a way to help, a fellow member of the Arkansas Women Bloggers has done an incredible job of compiling options that will make a difference for those in need. {There are also other ways to give money, too, for those who don't live near the affected areas.} CLICK THIS LINK for the detailed information, which includes a list of places accepting items and exactly which items are needed. There are also instructions for those wanting to volunteer with cleanup.

My Bauer Bunch is whole and well, but my Arkansas needs help.

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Family-Style Easter


It's high time for an Easter recap, don't you think?

I've thrown away our colorful hard-boiled eggs, I've stored the chocolate bunny remnants and Skittles, and I've removed the plastic grass from the carpet. The signs of Easter have left my house, but the spirit of Easter has only begun. I know I'm a week late on an Easter post, but I come with justification {and this one's legitimate}. Easter Sunday isn't the end to Holy Week, it's the beginning of a new season. It's a time renew our faith, our love, and our hope. That being said, I still need to tell y'all about Easter dresses, ham, and eggs. In the spirit of tidiness, I'm going to do this in list form. Here we go:

  1. Our Easter activities kicked off with a dozen little color tabs. We poured stinky vinegar over them, and we reminded Owen repeatedly that it was not juice. Once everyone had their colors chosen, we let them have at it to the tune of "crack-crack. CRACK. Sorry! It was an accident. CRACK! That was an accident, too." Let's just say Owen's eggs all had beautiful web-like designs and my floor was briefly speckled.


  2. Let's talk about my baby girl's Easter debut. When her babysitter opened a shop {check it out here and follow on Facebook here} and asked if she had an Easter bonnet yet, we were quick to sign on for a purchase. The gorgeous eyelet bonnet paired perfectly with her simple lavender dress and oh my goodness, just look at her. Don't look at the fact that we forgot her bloomers for picture time, though. I'm obviously more smitten than most, but that's one squishy baby doll.


  3. The Bauer Boys' Easter garb wasn't half bad, either. It took a little convincing for the six-year-old to go for this look, so it could be the last time you see it. Good thing I made them pose:


  4. They weren't the only ones cheesing in the yard. The last time we took official extended family photos was Christmas 2011. Owen was a tiny baby and Nora wasn't even on the radar. Our family has changed a lot since then, and it's time the pictures in our frames do, too. I don't even have a framed picture of my family of five, for crying out loud. I think that last one will do quite nicely:


  5. I thought it was funny when I reread last year's Easter post and realized I wrote the same thing, but the kids did such a great job in church. Nora's still content to be held and fed and Nathan is the perfect church kid, but Owen is a different story. Easter Sunday, however, he stayed in his seat and he stayed quiet. It could have had something to do with all the snuggles from his Poppy.

  6. My husband {with lots of help from sous chefs} is a pretty talented cook! There were eyebrows raised as he followed the words of The Pioneer Woman and combined spicy mustard and Dr. Pepper into a stellar ham glaze, but it resulted in the sweetest, most delectable ham I'd had in a while. Fixings included baked beans, roasted asparagus, his mother's famous potato salad, my mother's new take on hash brown casserole, my grandma's classic deviled eggs, and a big salad for a splash of green. Lots of hands in the kitchen meant lots of delicious food on everyone's fine Chinet plates {see what I did there?}. I loved seeing seventeen faces around my kitchen, laughing, loving, and celebrating. Our Easter Dinner was a success in my book.


    {I'm no ham photographer. This was way more appetizing than it looks}

  7. Thanks once again to my blogging idol, I had a hand in the food prep, too. Once we decided we were hosting Easter Dinner for the whole family, I knew my contribution would be in baking. I wanted something light and springy, but beyond box cake. After days of searching, I came across a fairly simple recipe for Lemon Lime Pound Cake. It was a classic pound cake with a splash of 7 Up and a zesty citrus glaze. Yum! It smelled as good as it tasted and it hit all the adjectives I wanted. Rest assured, this cake did not go to waste.


    {Same caption as above. Do not compare this to the gorgeous cake on the link}

  8. Once we cleared at least one level of leftovers, I grabbed a sack of plastic eggs and spread them across the yard, making sure to hide at least a handful in hard to reach places. I noticed a few eggs made noise when I shook them, which was odd because I didn't fill them. The boys had just about broken the front door down when I was ready, and they were shocked to find quarters, pennies, and year-old jellybeans waiting for them. Yay!


  9. Our driveway was clear by late afternoon and Jonathan and I tackled what was left of the mess. Before we finished, though, we had to grab a few more minutes of gorgeous spring air. Nora slept off a busy day and my love and I watched our sons cover the backyard in bubbles. It was the perfect way to unwind after a perfect Easter Sunday.

  10. And finally, a belated: "Christ the Lord has Risen! Alleluia!" We embrace the fun of bunnies, eggs, and chocolate, but that does not negate the reason for the season. The stone was rolled away, and the tomb was bare. His body is no longer here, but his soul is everywhere. Our job is to pick up where he left off, and spread his love as far as it can go. For this is the day the LORD has made, let us rejoice and be glad!

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Easy Earth Day


The Bauer Family Earth Day Extravaganza didn't happen this year. {Don't tell Mother Nature!}

April 22 has come and gone and I'm here to report zero excitement around the homestead. Typically we celebrate by letting dirt fly in the backyard garden, whether it's plopping seeds in the ground or tilling in compost. Not this year. Most beds are full of weeds, and probably ant hills hiding beneath. We are a bit behind on garden progress this year, but it's on purpose. Years ago I decided Earth Day was Planting Day, but after covering the tomatoes and peppers with bed sheets and praying for them all night, I decided to wait a little longer. Instead, we spent the day lying on the grass, blowing bubbles, and finding the dirtiest spots to drive a tractor. It was an easy Earth Day, but not a bad one at all:


Don't worry, our depressing little garden will soon get its fair share of loving from this crew. You may notice, if you squint a little, that you can already see a healthy patch. Once we uncovered our strawberries to let them breathe, the little plants started reaching for the heavens and popping out new flowers. We even have a handful of tiny green berries that will ripen in no time. We're nowhere close to where I want to be, but we're getting there:


We did up the gardening ante a bit, though. We were dangerously close to 90 degrees this afternoon and Jonathan left work a little early, which meant the perfect opportunity for a trip to the local nursery. Just like every year, I stood next to the gorgeous tomato plants, basking in the smell and mentally narrowing my picks. This year I went with two classics, and a new heirloom variety. We also grabbed hot and sweet peppers, a squash, and a special pack of watermelon plants for which the Bauer Boys have big plans. These purchases may live on my kitchen floor for a while, but at least they're one step closer. Stay tuned to the coming weeks after we're positive the threat of cool nights has passed. I have a feeling we'll all be covered in dirt before long, and my grubby little fingers will be capturing every moment.

Happy {day after} Earth Day!

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Peeps


Happy Easter, y'all, from my peeps to yours!

The dishes are humming in the washing machine and the family has gone home. Easter grass and plastic eggs are slowly giving way to the living room carpet and the second slice of pound cake is already calling my name. Easter with the Bauer Bunch {extended version} was nothing short of awesome. We began by rejoicing in a church decked with white lilies and thankful praise. It carried on to egg hunts, a delicious ham feast, and as much laughter and love as you could cram into my cozy little home. I'll be back with a full report {and MANY more photos of that bonnet} after I sleep for a while, but I thought I'd be nice enough to pop in this evening to A) wish you a wonderful Easter, B) show you my cute children, and C) make a joyful noise throughout the Internet. He is RISEN! Alleluia!


"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!
In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."

1 Peter 1:3


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Saturday, April 19, 2014

SIX on Saturday


For the sake of alliteration, I'm giving you something extra in my weekly rundown. I apparently took a blogging hiatus this week, but my kids were still cute. I figured I might as well show you with a Six on Saturday. While the ham is in the oven, the Easter dresses are laid out, and your kid is desperately trying to rid his hands of green dye, relax for a moment and take a quick peek into the happenings of my Bunch:

ONE: We decided to go all in for Easter this year. Jonathan and I stepped to the plate as hosts for the big dinner. One agonizingly planned meal, one giant trip to the grocery store, and one seating arrangement later, and I think we're ready. Except for, you know, actually doing it. We'll worry about that tomorrow, though. Today we will dye eggs and fingers and faces. Fingers are crossed I'll be back soon with a report of a beautiful day and an equally beautiful dinner. I hope you soak up the time with your family, rejoicing the risen Lord and thanking him for his ultimate sacrifice.

TWO: We hadn't been to the zoo since Owen was five months old, so a trip was overdue. However, Saturday's visit had a bit of a different spin, as this one involved my husband, a priest, and 16 teenagers. Sounds like the start to a bad joke, doesn't it? No jokes here, friend, this was real life. We serve as youth ministers for our parish and we thought the zoo would make for a fun spring outing. Although herding them from one exhibit to the next was work, we had a pretty great time and the kids were well-behaved. Our group has grown from five members to this bunch in just two years, and I am so blessed to see such an interest. I may even take them out in public again...

THREE: I believe the last time I mentioned the horror that is taking Owen to get his hair cut was on a Five on Friday, and here I am again {well, kind of} with an update. I wish I had proof of the thrashing, wailing, and gnawing of teeth that took place the last time my mother and I stepped foot into a salon with my three-year-old. Through cookies, Capri Sun, and outlandish promises, I struggled to hang on while the beautician tried not to cut off his ear. It was Daddy's turn. I met my brave husband downtown with the Bauer Brothers, dropped them off, and drove away praying. About four minutes later, I get this:


A) Never in his life has Owen worn a cape during a hair cut.
B) Never in his life has Owen sat by himself during a hair cut.
C) Never in his life has Owen not cried during a hair cut.
As much as I want to shout that how unfair this is, I'm relieved to have an answer
{and to know I never again have to take Owen for a hair cut}.

FOUR: I'm a little behind on the the garden game this year, but I decided I was no longer in the business of covering sensitive tomato plants with bed sheets. Also, there's been a lot of good TV lately. One bed, however, has been rediscovered, and the sweet taste of spring is coming. We made quick work of pulling the weeds and straw off our strawberry patch last weekend, and we were pleased to see plants where they were not last year, and a thick collection of white blooms. As long as these 80-degree days stick around, the flowers will be berries in no time. I'll do my best to get a picture before Nathan eats them all.


FIVE: No news is good news on a pair of well-baby checkups last week. Owen was diagnosed a spirited three-year-old who weighed 39.5 pounds and was 39.5 inches tall - a perfect square! After a quick one-on-one about the importance of using the potty at home {yeah, this post basically made me a liar // more on that soon}, he was handed a prized green sucker. This was the first time he didn't cry at the doctor's office. I don't know what Owen's doing differently, but I hope he continues to do it. Nora June weighed in at a whopping 24 pounds, 13 ounces. She was in the 96th percentile for weight and head circumference, and the 23rd for length - a perfect circle! She was diagnosed with extra cute, and sent on her merry way. The doctor didn't seem concerned with her lack of mobility or multiple rolls, but hopefully she'll be moving and grooving by the next visit. Healthy kids, happy mama!

SIX: The Easter Bunny is hooking Nora June up this year, or so I hear. He was a little perplexed about what to get for a baby girl whose drawers and toy boxes are already overflowing, so he decided to stop at the Puff Puffs. Baby's first puff is always an exciting time in this family, and if something funny/cute happens with this experience, you can more than likely find it here. Consider yourself lucky. Another Easter Bunny decided to hop into her basket early and let Nora get a sneak peek at whats to come. Spoiler Alert: it's hair bows. This baby girl finally has enough locks to clip in a clippie, and clip in we did. Hair bows, puff puffs, I'm afraid to ask what's next!

Also: Arms!


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Friday, April 18, 2014

The Cross


As I traveled down the blue-sky highway to first grade this morning, something bright red glinted in the sunlight and snatched my attention.

Dangling from my rear view mirror is a small rosary, a crucifix surrounded by red beads, which serves as a constant reminder when I'm driving. I'll look at it and offer a quick prayer, or maybe a whole decade. I'll look at it and remember the prayers requested by the members of my youth group. I'll look at it and just chat with Jesus for a while. Today, however, it meant something different. Today it reminded me that the cross is not empty. The cross is never empty.

Easter is such a big part of Christianity, but Good Friday is equally important. Thus, I felt compelled to put finger to keyboard and share the words that are heavy on my heart. This weekend we will remember that Jesus Christ rose from the dead, all bright and glorious, to redeem our souls and breathe new life into the masses of the world. While that is the definition of awesome, we have to remember Jesus Christ the human being, too. To rise with him, we must die with him first.

For those who don't know, I am a proud Catholic. That doesn't really make my Christianity that different than others, but it means the season of Lent is high on my priority list. Upon first mention of Lent, most people think of giving up chocolate, or coffee, or French fries, or perhaps hitting up the Friday fish buffet. Lent has become synonymous with sacrifice, and while sacrifice is an important facet of the season, that's not {in my opinion} what it's all about. I see Lent as a time of self-reflection. Of looking in the mirror and seeing if I'm the kind of person for whom Jesus accepted his own death. He carried his cross, suffered beatings and whippings and utter ridicule just to save my life. Am I worthy?

The short answer is no, I am not. And every Lent I think about what I can do to get a little closer to where He wants me to be. We can never be perfect, and we will always need forgiveness, but we can strive to love others the way he loves us while we're still on this planet. That's why he took up his cross. That's why he took up yours.

This time of year I also remember that Jesus Christ was just like us at one time. He was made up of skin, flesh, bone, and blood. His heart beat the same as ours, and his brain worked the same way. He battled his own self-doubt and worry in the desert, and he questioned God's word in the garden. He was human. I find myself in the desert more often than I'd like, but the next step Jesus took is the one I struggle with the most. He completely surrendered to the Lord and allowed his will to be done. Before we can rise with him, we must die with him first.

Easter Sunday is a time to rejoice, but we cannot forget the days leading up it and what those days meant. Each of us were in the holes in his hands, the nails in his feet, and the blood on his face. Jesus' death was not pretty, but it was the most important thing anyone has ever done for us. When I walk into church, I look at Jesus' tired body on the cross, and I thank him for giving me a chance. Even though I don't always deserve it.

When Jesus carried his own cross, it was laden with the sins of the world. He gave us rest. He allowed us to place our burdens on his back along with the weight of the heavy wood. And, y'all, his arms are still stretched wide.

On the third day, the rock was rolled away, the tomb was bare, and the cross was simply wood and nails, but it's never really empty. It's filled with our sins and the sins of all who came before us and will come after. We know Jesus Christ will rise, and I am excited to celebrate that with my family on Sunday, but first things first. Today I shout my delight in the fact that God loved us so much that he gave his only begotten son. I will praise Jesus Christ that forgiveness is an option. I will be thankful for the fact that there is still room on the cross. He died so that we may live. Let us feel as he felt, hurt as he hurt, and love as he loved. In order to rise with him, all bright and glorious, our sins must die with him first.

"He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness;
by his wounds you have been healed."

1 Peter 2:24



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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Silly Siblings


If I don't do a photo shoot of Nora's spring-themed outfit, did she really wear it?

Don't answer that. Not because it's rhetorical, but because it's silly. Also, I don't know the answer because this stone-faced baby was happy enough for a picture. While I was snapping this combo of precious baby, chick shirt by Lightin Bug Kreations, and bunny headband by Sassy Sweet Pea Designs, we had a little company. Both Bauer Boys bounded into the nursery, rummaging through noise-making toys from their past and fighting for Nora's attention. When I asked them to give me two minutes to get their sis to smile, they stood by, chomping chips and waiting to play:


That's when I decided to forgo this solo shoot. Because of Facebook and the amazing throwbacks my sister-in-law posted of my then-tiny husband, I know that it's officially National Siblings Day. Instead of pushing the boys out of the picture, I asked them to jump into the frame. All three were only in view for a few shots, and they never looked at the camera simultaneously, but they did it. Getting them all together takes more patience than I was armed with this afternoon, but maybe we'll get the perfect sibling picture before Nathan's off to college:


Moral of this story is not just Nora's cute shirt or sweet brothers, it's the still very weird idea that I have a threesome of siblings living under my roof. As a direct cause of the love between my husband and me, these small people will get to grow up next to each other. They may not always enjoy it, two-against-one will happen probably more often than I care to admit, doors will slam, and prized possessions will be stolen. Words will be exchanged, and punches will be thrown. Beyond that, though, these little ones have each other for the rest of their lives. They will remind each other that thunder can't hurt them and words can't, either. They will hold hands when first days of school are harder than they thought. They will hold hands when growing up is harder than they thought. They will stand up for each other with pride at graduations, at weddings, at births. They will give each other secrets and nieces and nephews. They will be a guarantee in each other's lives. I'm thankful to have been blessed enough to give that to them. And I think that's worth a punch or two {or three}.


Happy National Sibling Day, y'all! Shout out to my one and only, Tommy, and shout out to my parents for granting my request for a brother. We may not see each other as often as I'd like, but there's something about the bond that comes with the territory. I'm happy to have him always. Second shout out to my sisters by choice! SILs Bridget and Rose, I couldn't have picked you better if I'd picked you myself. {I guess I did technically pick you, Bridget. You're welcome!} LOVE to all of you.

Now go hug your brother or sister or anyone, really. Hugging is fun!


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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Nora {Nine Months}


This chunk of love is getting dangerously close to double digits.

Yes, it's another eighth of the month and a number sticker was calling my name. Baby Sis is officially nine months old, and except for a recent round of sickness, she's had a great month. Nora is growing and learning, and her personality is really starting to shine. She's a Stage One clinger, she's a gigantic flirt, and she has already perfected my name. I don't have any scientific measurements since her well baby visit isn't until Friday, but I'm happy to create my own Nora Facts. First, however, check out some more of these sweet cheeks:



  • Nora is a talker. Unlike the boys and their dada, Nora June is a mama's girl through and through. The "m" sound is her favorite, and while I know this doesn't make mama her first word, as much as her favorite sound to make, it still warms my heart. You know if you were in my shoes you'd be pretending she's calling your name, too. It's a fun game. She also likes to say "hi hi hi" and "yeah yeah yeah." Impressed? You should be.

  • Baby Girl loves the springtime. I'm just guessing here, since she can't tell me, but there's a 96% chance I'm right. Now that Old Man Winter has blown out of here, Nora is getting her first taste of Arkansas spring. Whether she's swinging with me on the front porch, driving tractors in the grass, or watching her brothers run, this girl is loving the great outdoors. We have yet to turn over the garden soil, but I guarantee you my daughter will be right beside me, content to sit in the dirt and play with and/or eat it.

  • Not only did she graduate to a new car seat this month, Nora moved on up in the dining world, too. You may have seen a recent Instagram post featuring a baby girl sitting in a high chair, contemplating the finer points of the Outback Steakhouse menu. Now that her infant seat is old news, so are the days of the sling. This means two things: 1) no more naps at restaurants and 2) a rather large area of clear space in front of her. She's already grabbed Owen's spoon full of beans, my water, an entire collection of napkins, and a piece of bread. This one is sneaky when it comes to the grub.

  • Nora has some impressive chub, and believe me that it's even better in person. Her ankles are nonexistent, her arms appear to be covered in rubber bands, and her thighs make up half of her weight. It shouldn't surprise you that Nora tipped the scales over 24 pounds at the doctor's office last week. At a year old, Nathan and Owen weighed 26 and 25 pounds respectively. I think it's safe to say Nora will take the title over the next three months. She comes by it naturally, though. Unfortunately there's no photographic evidence comparing Baby Jessica to the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man:


  • This brings us to our final fact: every now and again, Nora gets all of her feelings hurt. Obviously she has a good reason now {sorry, baby girl}, but usually it's me walking past her without picking her up, making eye contact when she's being held by anyone else, and or not providing a never-ending bottle. Thankfully, she gets over these spells rather quickly - but not quick enough to miss the camera.

Happy Tuesday, gang!


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